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US Army reactivates 56th Artillery Command in Europe

The US Army is reactivating its European Theater Fires Command at a time when it is now free of the constraints of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that banned ground-launched missiles with a range between 500 km to 5,500 km.

“The reactivation of the 56th Artillery Command will provide US Army Europe and Africa with significant capabilities in multidomain operations,” Major General Stephen Maranian, the command's commanding general, said in a 3 November statement. “It will further enable the synchronisation of joint and multinational fires and effects, and employment of future long-range surface-to-surface fires.”

This command's headquarters is in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, and the army said its “lineage” from the 56th Field Artillery Command was last active in Europe from 1986 to 1991, before Washington signed on to the INF Treaty.

Citing concerns with Moscow's 9M729 missiles, the United States withdrew from the treaty in 2019 and has been developing and testing its own ground-launched weapons that can fly between 500 km and 5,500 km.

For the army, one such weapon is the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) prototype that is set to replace Lockheed Martin's MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and can be fired from a M142 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher or a M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). The service has not disclosed what the baseline missile's range will be when it is fielded in 2023 but it is expected to exceed 500 km. Future iterations are then expected to push that envelope out even further and the addition of a multimode seeker will enable the weapon to also strike maritime targets.

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